Thursday, 8 March 2012

Saturday, the tenth of May 1980

In accordance with the age old convention of “my house my rules”, these are the by-laws as laid down by Alun Jones.

Actually this is a note that he slid under the door to my bedroom while I was out at work today. I got home and there it was, lying on the carpet just inside my room, at first I thought someone cared enough to send me a letter.

1.    Children should be seen but not heard is just plain wrong. You shouldn’t be seen either. Henceforth you will stay in your room unless invited to come down and join civilized people. You have books, a TV, a stereo and more records than you know what to do with, so there’s no excuse not to stay up there.

2.    We have a nice house full of nice things. But somehow you manage to make the place look scruffy (consider as precedent the “blue-denim-stains-from-your-jeans-on-an-expensive-cream-leather-sofa” incident). It’s a talent, I admit it. The only areas in the house you may enter without permission are:

·         Your room

·         The attic bathroom

·         The Kitchen

·         The garage

3.    Your table manners are atrocious, and put others off their food. Because of this the only time you are invited to eat with the rest of the family is Saturday evening and Sunday lunch. It’s nothing personal – except that it is.

4.    I am surprised to find that someone with your lack of personal hygiene and inter-personal skills has made friends of any sort, let alone started a courtship! I congratulate you on finding a member of the opposite sex who, quite obviously has such low standards that even you seem like an attractive proposition. You will not, I repeat NOT, invite her up to your room for a “coffee” (or whatever other euphemism you youngsters use these days). We all know where that will lead to. And frankly, I don’t think you can support yourself, let alone a wife/girlfriend and a baby!

5.    WELL DONE on finding a job. It’s such a pity that it’s only part-time. Still, I suppose there is a recession on. If you want any help, say searching the Evening Echo looking for a bedsit, feel free to let me know.

I took the note to mum. She showed it to Alun. There was a blazing row.

Of course.

In the end Alun explained that it was a joke and that I had no sense of humour. Mum sided with him.

So it’s all my fault coz I can’t take a joke.

I know when I’m not wanted.

Thursday, the eighth of May 1980

A big fat blob of sweat rolled down my nose and landed on the top of the sizzling meat patty of a Whopper. It wasn’t the first time I’d added my essence to a burger, and so long as I work in the fast food industry it won’t be the last.

 I used the big metal tweezers to pick the burger up and slide it onto the bottom half of a toasted bun, and then flipped the top of the bun in place and stuffed it into the steamer draw.

I checked the clock on the wall; six PM. Right! That’s me out of here. I sprinted upstairs and tore my uniform off, stuffing it into a plastic carrier bag from Woolworths, dressed in jeans, a Motorhead t-shirt, Doc Martens boots and a black leather jacket. I had to get home fast – Top of the Pops would be on at seven and I still had to get home and have tea!

Home is a town house, a tall narrow three story building in a horseshoe-shaped terrace. In the middle of the road was a raised bed of meticulously tended shrubs. At the back each house had a pocket handkerchief of perfectly groomed lawn. 

Mum and my step-dad, Alun, seemed to be happy here, and that was what mattered – to them. Nobody asked whether I was happy. Why would they? I’m seventeen, still a kid. If I want to leave home nobody’s stopping me. Hell

Alun would positively encourage it.

If you get the impression that there’s no love lost between me and Alun then let me be the first to congratulate you for spotting the patently bleeding obvious!

I let myself in and went straight to the kitchen on the ground floor at the back. There was a half baguette hollowed out and stuffed with grated cheese mixed with chopped cucumber and salad cream, something that Mum had invented, she called it a Cheese Shoe. I got a can of Coke out of the fridge and ate and drank like my life depended on it.

My room is right at the top of the building in the attic. I’m not allowed to take food up there, and I want to catch tonight’s entire chart countdown on TV. 

I did a half-arsed and hurried job of washing my plate and ran upstairs two at a time. The living room’s on the first floor. I can see Mum and Dad are sitting in reverential silence watching something on BBC 2.

I ran into the big attic room with the skylight, slamming the door behind me. I switched on the small black and white portable TV in time to hear the announcer say in his clipped, precise BBC voice:

“And now it’s time to see what’s Top of the Pops with Kid Jensen and Mike Read.”

Made it.